BNP ‘agrees in principle’ to contest election

Salman Tareque Sakil
Published : 00:45, Nov 09, 2018 | Updated : 00:57, Nov 09, 2018

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, (first from right), National Standing Committee members Moudud Ahmed, (first from left) and Khadakar Mosarrof Hossain (second from left) are seen with Gano Forum chief Dr Kamal Hossain, (second from right) during the talks between Jatiya Oikya Front and Awami League-led 14-party Alliance at Ganabhaban on Nov 1. FOCUS BANGLADespite coming down hard the Election Commission for announcing the schedule for the general election, the BNP has ‘agreed in principle’ to take part in the voting slated for Dec 23, according to party leaders familiar with the matter.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda announced the schedule during his address to the nation on Thursday.
In an instant reaction, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that it was meant for “a lopsided election as per the government’s will”.
The Jatiya Oikya Front, the alliance-led by Gano Forum chief Dr Kamal Hossain with BNP and three other parties, however, is yet to officially comment.
According to several senior BNP leaders, the initial decision to join the polls came from a meeting of party’s policymaking National Standing Committee members late on Thursday.
They said the Standing Committee members will sit again on Saturday following the Oikya Front rally in Rajshahi to discuss strategies for the election.
However, no BNP policymaking leaders agreed to comment on record.
They said that the BNP will prepare for the Dec 23 voting, but will finalise its strategies in consultation with its allies in the Oikya Front.
“We want to contest the polls, but it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure an all-inclusive election,” BNP Vice Chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu told Bangla Tribune.
Blaming the Awami League government of ‘mistreating opponent parties’, he said, “The schedule could have been deferred by a few days. For the last five years, (prime minister) Sheikh Hasina has maintained she will not open talks, but in the end she did.”
Dudu said the demands by Oikya Front were in line with the Constitution.
“Just like, the polls-time government (was in the Constitution); the Awami League changed it. Sheik Hasina’s prime opponent is Khaleda Zia,” he added.
On the issue of BNP contesting in the polls, Dudu, however, said, “That can’t be said now. The matter will be discussed with Jukto Front leaders. Let’s see what happens.”
ASM Abdur Rab-led Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), an ally in the Oikya Front, echoed.
“We will decide on our stance on the election after the Rajshahi rally,” its General Secretary Abdul Malek Ratan said.
Speaking to Bangla Tribune, Gano Forum General Secretary Mostofa Mohsin Montu said, “The Election Commission ignored our demand to defer the polls.
A senior Oikya Front leader, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the alliance will take part in the 11th Parliamentary Election and it’s likely that the candidates will contest the election with BNP’s polls symbol ‘sheaf of paddy’.